Politics & Policy

Why I Changed My Mind and Joined the #NeverTrump Movement

(Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Let me begin by saying that I was wrong. Weeks ago I said on a number of radio interviews that while I opposed Trump in the primary, I’d back him if he won the GOP nomination. I hadn’t yet seen — or had been unwilling to believe — the full extent of his contempt for the truth, his fondness for far-left conspiracy theories, and his sheer malice. When I saw Trump in full, my decision was easy: Never Trump.

I have spent my entire adult life advocating against abortion and working to protect the unborn. I didn’t endure the taunts and jeers of my law-school classmates, work countless days and nights away from home to protect the free-speech rights of pro-life protestors, and defend the freedoms of the unsung heroes in crisis-pregnancy centers only to vote for a man who’s a walking Planned Parenthood commercial.

Last night, even in his alleged “uniter” mode, Trump went out of his way to once again praise the nation’s largest abortionist — the killer of millions of children — and call his critics “so-called conservatives.”

https://twitter.com/POLITICOvideo/status/704861556606115840

This language will never — not ever — unite the conservative movement.

While my own military service can’t compare to the sacrifices and courage of the true American heroes of the Iraq War, I didn’t leave my home and risk my life in the fight against the world’s worst jihadists to vote for a man who apparently believes that I was little more than the stooge of a vast conspiracy to lie our way into war. Moreover, I cannot abide the notion of voting for a man whose “war strategy” is a child-killing war crime and who said out loud that more bombs plus two months of Exxon will defeat ISIS.

Too many people act as if we’re electing a symbolic middle finger rather than a commander-in-chief. I defy you to find a single shred of evidence that Trump has given the slightest thought to America’s military and strategic challenges beyond his obviously ad-libbed bravado.

#share#But the true battle for our country isn’t political, it’s cultural and spiritual. In an era where fidelity and integrity are in increasingly short supply — with the breakdown of faith and family the chief factors in the struggles among America’s most vulnerable citizens — how can I responsibly cast a vote to give one of the nation’s foremost cultural platforms to a man who has openly, loudly, and unrepentantly bragged of his adulterous sexual conquests? How can I support a man who demonstrates such a breathtaking level of malice and cruelty in his treatment of his fellow citizens? Our nation can survive lost elections, but over the long term it cannot survive a decayed culture. And by God I won’t vote for a man who takes a wrecking ball to the core values I hold dear.

Those of us in the #NeverTrump camp are saying all this now — in the heat of the primary — not because we’re taking our ball and going home, but because we’re laying down a marker. We will fight Trump through every state, to the convention, and beyond. #NeverTrump isn’t a sign of surrender but rather a rallying cry. The battle, after all, is far from over.

The best hope for stopping Trump is to let his supporters know that he can’t possibly unite conservatives

Although Trump has won the majority of the states so far, the delegate race is remarkably close — the New York Times has the spread at Trump 241, Cruz 222, and Rubio 110. Why? Because — as my colleague Jim Geraghty has noted — it’s tough to claim a mandate while winning only a combined 34.2 percent of votes cast. With this reality, the worst thing that Trump’s opponents can do now is signal that the stakes are low, that this is a normal race, and that we’ll all get along just fine when this thing is over.

#related#No, the best hope for stopping Trump is to let his supporters know that he can’t possibly unite conservatives and then blanket the airwaves, the Internet, and social media with the truth. He’ll blast the Republican party apart not because he’s taking on lobbyists and politicians (indeed, many in the political class are rallying around him now) but because he’s taking on the people who’ve been working in the trenches — against an overwhelmingly hostile culture — to defend life and liberty, to uphold the values Trump scorns.

There are those who say that the #NeverTrump crew should “get a life,” but we are opposed to Trump because of our lives: our life’s work, to be precise. No, not our careers — they will go on — but rather the long and vital work of building a conservative movement that represents our nation’s best hope for the greatness Trump claims to crave.

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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